More than 2,600 European banks will be ready for the launch of the single euro payments area (SEPA) Direct Debit (SDD) scheme on 2 November 2009. “In Germany, almost all the private banks which offer their clients payment services will take part,” said Hans-Joachim Massenberg, deputy general manager of the Association of German Banks (AGB). And in one year’s time at the latest – when legislation takes effect – they will be joined by all the banks, he added.
SEPA was launched in the eurozone in January 2008 with standardised credit transfers (SCT) and card framework (SCF). At the beginning of November 2009, the SEPA direct debit will follow. “German consumers and companies will then have access to the same payment facilities throughout Europe as those already familiar to them at home,” underlined Massenberg.
Although this completed phase I of SEPA implementation, Massenberg stressed that two tasks remained: customers continue to use the SEPA instruments primarily for cross-border payments. First, it was crucial for customers to move beyond using SEPA instruments solely for cross-border payments and use them for domestic payments as well; and second, pubic authorities and firms need to make greater use of SEPA schemes, as this was the only way to make the internal market a reality in the payments sector too. “We therefore expect policymakers – especially at national level – to support the SEPA more strongly than has been the case up to now,” said Massenberg.
It was also clear that SEPA schemes would gradually have to replace national schemes during phase II. The AGB pointed to a European Commission survey that found that all market participants would like to see a fixed, pan-European changeover date set by lawmakers. “This reflects our experience,” Massenberg added. “The euro was also not introduced to be used in parallel, and thus in competition, with national currencies, but replaced them completely.”
The third, completely revised edition of the booklet ‘SEPA: uniform payment instrument for Europe’ can be downloaded here.
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